Businesses of all sizes are busy planning for the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions that, in some cases, will include the withdrawal of the official advice to work from home. However, things will not necessarily be the same as in the pre-coronavirus world.
While some companies will return to a five-day office-based model, many others will take the opportunity to embrace contemporary ways of working where employees may only come into the office for part of the week. This trend will not just result in hybrid office spaces but will fundamentally transform the way we work.
A key factor in designing workspaces where employees will meet, collaborate, and work at desks, is sourcing flexible, robust furniture that will tick all the boxes for multifunctional use for years to come.
Pods for privacy
One of the primary challenges when creating working spaces to be used by a variety of people at different times is providing areas for confidential meetings, important phone calls, one-to-ones and quiet work. Acoustic pods, phone booths and meeting booths offer the ideal solution. Not only do they look modern and attractive, but they also provide the perfect spot to retreat to when privacy or concentration is required.
The furniture used in the office is increasingly reflecting the fact where we work and for how many hours are no longer set in stone. By providing flexible furniture such as sit-stand desks, employers can offer various options to accommodate the preferences of staff using the same furniture on different days – or even the same employee throughout the same day.
Modular tables are another clever solution for the new workplace, as the ability to quickly and easily reconfigure a meeting space means anything from small client gatherings to board conferences can be catered for at short notice.
Although the days when every employee had their own desk to furnish with the plants and photos are becoming obsolete, health and safety considerations are no less important and, of course, are still required by law.
For this reason, it is crucial to select furniture that employees can change to their own requirements. As well as adjustable chairs, it is now possible to source great quality, easily altered desks that are ideal for hotdesking. Workplace assessments will provide the necessary information about the type of furniture required and any additional needs.
In the post-pandemic era, cleanliness will also be a key concern. When choosing office furniture, opt for easy-to-wipe surfaces such as chrome, vinyl and wood laminates.
Building your brand
Most companies will be keen to create an office to reflect their brand in a way that will make employees feel part of it, even in an era when they may not spend as much time there as before. However, as well as style, it’s important to take quality into account as the furniture of the future will have to be far more flexible and robust than in the past. Well-made furniture will undoubtedly be a sound and essential investment.
Mark Brown is Director of Lismark Office Products, a company specialising in designing and creating bespoke layouts using high quality furniture. Mark is an expert in office furniture and design and has spent over a decade providing businesses with advice on setting up office spaces to enhance productivity and increase happiness.